THE ENLIGHTENED CONSUMERS: THE CHALLENGES FOR THE CHURCH AND THE COMMUNITY
Speech delivered by Anwar Fazal, Executive Director; IOCU, Asia Pacific Regional Office during a dinner reception held by Church-Based Consumers Movement (CBCM) in Quezon City, Philippines on the 15th of August 1988.
I would like to start by sharing with you the words of a song. I thought I
would start with the worlds of a song because you started this meeting with
a song. The song is from one of our Asian civilizations - India and it goes
like this. It says:
If nobody listens to your call,
If others are afraid to speak out,
turn their face away.
Open your heart and speak out,
the truth alone.
If everyone turns away from the difficult road,
Stand alone with your bloodstained feet.
When you are traveling on a dark, stormy and rainy night,
If nobody gives light and if everybody shuts their door,
Then let thunder and lightning burn the light within you.
And with that light,
and with that light,
Brave little people all over the world, in the Philippines and in many other countries fighting for justice, began many social movements in this kind of way. They walked alone. Thru their work, they changed the face of the earth. They have inspired and began revolutions, revolutions for hope and justice and a better life.
The Consumer Revolution
In the consumer movement too is about that. Courage of such little people who are brave enough to walk alone trigger a proliferation of little people who are now all over the world marching together. Marching together in a away no one once thought was possible. This march has let for the first time in the history of the world a consumer code in 1981 that banned all advertising of infant formulas. And if 10 years ago or 15 years ago we told people that we are going to have a campaign that was going to stop everywhere in the world the advertisement of infant formulas, they would say impossible, unthinkable. But it happened and it showed you the power of the people working together.
This revolution was not just about the cost of living. It was also about the cost of survival. It was not just about the value of money which is something the people has associated the consumer movement with. Far more important, it was about the value for humanity. It was also a revolution that was necessarily militant because it was dealing with important issues. But it was never violent. It was a revolution about power and politics. But it was not necessarily about the left and the right. Sometimes it was both the left and right. But it was more a revolution of the courage, of the concern, of the responsible and of the entire enlightened.
It was the revolution of a very special relationship, the relationship between our inner environment, our own bodies and how we feed our environment inside that God has in all His magnificence has blest us to care and nurture.
It was about the outer environment because the outer environment and the inner environment are both linked very closely together. This revolution has formed a galaxy of systems organization. You have heard some of their names; IBFAN, HAI, PAN, Consumer Interpol, etc, and a host of others - networks "that bring consumers" organizations together in a new way by strengthening ourselves by linking with each other. These networks began to work by focusing on issues like pesticides, like baby food, like medicines, toxic waste, tobacco, multinational corporations and bio-technology.
In many parts of the world, it brought us together with the church. And particularly those in the church who were caring, who were concerned, who were responsible and who were enlightened.
The first International United Nations Code that protected and promoted breastfeeding became very much an international instrument because of our partnership with the church, because of the partnership of our voices and the partnership of our strength.
This evening, I'd like to share with you some of our experiences of that partnership, this partnership with those women's organizations, farmer's organizations, partnerships that brought us into contact with thousands of groups over the last decade with millions of people in every corner of the globe.
We Are All Consumers
The very first important point for us is that the message of us as consumers
is a very powerful one because all of us are consumers. It brings us in a link
- in a universal link. And because of that universal link, it gives us a certain
strength and it gives us a certain solidarity. And basic needs for survival,
whether you a Filipino, a Malaysian, American, Russian, Chinese, Eskimo or African
are exactly the same. We need air to breathe, we need water to drink, we need
food to be able to survive, we need warmth, we need security. People are not
that different elsewhere and everywhere in the world. So this universality is
the first and every important element in the world. And in our work we have
talked about this universality, this brotherhood and the sisterhood of humanity
and we think this is important. It transcends national boundaries. Code does
not recognize political boundaries and we too, in our work have to think in
this kind of way. We have to think in terms of our commonness, and we have to
think in terms of how we, as people of the world as one common people can also
show us in our solidarity.
The Sevens Kinds Of Consumption
The second important lesson is that consuming was not just about eating because people tend to think about consumer as people who eat, who abuse things. And they forget that consumption is a very complex and dynamic process. And we consume not just with our mouth. We consume with all our senses, we consume with our eyes. We consume with our ears. We consume with our bodies things.
There are particularly seven kinds of consumptions that we have to become sensitive. Sometimes we are blind. We are asleep about what we are actually ourselves doing. We take so many things for granted that we become immune to questioning what actually is happening to us. Because we are blind, we are easily manipulated. These seven things for are tangible things that we consume - things you can see, they may be food, they may be products. But we also consume services - doctor's advice, lawyer's advice. Those are very important part of the things that we use in our society. We also consume things that are produced by what is called the private sector; people that are motivated by small organizations, by profit. We also consume things that are produced by our government. And each of those kinds of products are quite different. Things that are produced by businesses have their own dynamics. And sometimes governments feel that because they are producing things, you have to accept what they give. Then you owe to them what they are giving you even if it is bad or not. So much of these consumptions are important and there are different ways of campaigning with government and with the private sector.
We also have different kinds of patterns where cooperatives begin to produce products, where community organizations produce products. We have also the situation where people produce products for their own consumption. Farmers for example, and there is a term that has been coined by one of the great management persons. They are called "prosumers," in which they produce for their own consumption. They, too are very important consumers. We have to think about them too as consumers.
Then we also consume things directly, some things we can see, some things we can consume indirectly. We don't take it ourselves, but it may be put into our foodstuff like additives and chemicals. You don't take cyclamades but the cyclamades may be added. You don't take MSG but you don't know Ajinomoto may be put into all kinds of foodstuff. Sometimes you can take directly some things you might be taking indirectly. Some of it may be processed such as that it may be indistinguishable. We also consume some things voluntarily and sometimes involuntarily. Like for example, right now you have no choice in your menu and you voluntarily came here, I hope. But the choice of the menu was of course you were not forced to eat that food and that very kind of power that consumers have at least. Sometimes you ignore that particular part. But this consumption that is voluntarily and involuntarily is very important.
For example, we have the power over children. We can decide what they eat and what they don't eat. We have influence over the baby we might be carrying in our womb and what medicine we take, the smoke, the drink. We are affecting someone who has no choice in the mother. Old people who are handicapped, we have power over them. So these kind of involuntarily consumption too, has dynamics and we have to become. But very often we become involuntary consumers. If there's only one airline, there's only one bus, only one electricity authority, then we too have the situation of having involuntary consumption of these things. So we have to think of those kinds of organizations in different ways wherein we have a choice. Because if we have no choice, we have a right to demand a certain standard for services.
Then there are also goods and services that we pay for and some we don't pay for directly. Some things may be free like going to a park may be free. But things do change. Sometimes you pay for that indirectly. You pay them through taxes. But they are free goods and they are becoming free services. But things are changing, you find now all over the world that you have to buy water outside if you want. There are some countries now where you have to buy air. One of the big things in Japan is that people go to the supermarket and you can buy capsules of oxygen. You just buy that and you throw that away and you go out and that is the latest thing. This was used a lot by athletes. You find very often using this special oxygen canisters. Nut now it has become a consumer product. People actually go and buy air and we can buy clean oxygen and take it in Japan. It will come by soon in the Philippines. Buy a little air.
There is also consumption that is visible and invisible. Pollutants in the air - you may be consuming toxic chemicals in your water, food, things that you cannot see. Things like that happen in our society. You are invisibly consuming around things that you know of that might be affecting you in all kinds of way.
The seventh is that the things that we consume immediately and the things that we consume that will have an effect in the future. Some things that we consume now may affect our consumption in the future. If you use up all the forest, then one day you will have to worry about timber. And if you use up energy resources, parks, good air, recreation areas, one day in the future you will not have them.
We have to balance these present consumption with future consumption. A saying that came from Kashmir, India, says that we have not inherited our earth from our forefathers, we have borrowed it from our children. Many other traditional cultures say that too. We are looking forward rather than looking back. We have not gotten it from our forefathers but we have borrowed it from our children. In this way, you always think in the future.
The Power Of The Boycott
The third point is not consuming. This is the power of boycott. This is the power of discipline. This is the power of controlling the old body, and fasting and concept like that. It has always been apart of the great religions of the world. It is self-denial but it also becomes a power more than a discipline. It can be a power by which you can effect change the nature of businesses. You can show your disgust the way products are being produced. You can show your disgust in which employees are treated by casting your vote against those products, by not just buying those products. You can change the way in which the environment is viewed by not buying those products. So this part of not consuming is a very powerful part and we should begin to exercise that a great deal. And so boycott ad things like that become very important instruments. And the other is just the whole concept of voluntary simplicity living - something that the whole mass consumption society, you are what you see on T.V. Buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume and the whole culture develops. And as our young children grow up under the structure of "where's my new thing, where's my new toy." It is built up by industries.
The greeting card culture for example. In Mexico they had a very big campaign with the Mexican consumer institute. They decided that these kinds of things are a terrible waste. And they say, "Give your child a present. Spend some time with them." And another is, "Don't buy affection. Give it". But simply spending time with them, you'll need programs of books wherein children can make presents for their parents. Maybe 99 ways by which parents can show their love with their children without spending money. This power of rethinking the way we consume is a very important point.
Rights And Responsibilities
The fourth thing is, we both have rights and responsibilities as consumers. And both of them must go together. We cannot talk just purely in terms of rights. We live in a society wherein we have all kinds of relationships with each other and the exercise of rights must go together with the responsibilities. They are both two parts of the same aspect. And these rights and responsibilities are important. They give us a vision and not only a vision but also a conscience. Vision is soulless if we don't have a conscience attached to it.
We talk basically of eight rights in the consumer movement. The first one concerns just having the basic goods and services that everyone needs for his survival. No human being must die because he was denied the basic needs to survive. They must have access to basic goods and services for survival.
There must be fair prices and fair costs.
Safety. They must be safe for us. There must be information about products so that we know what we are taking and how we are using them.
We have the right to be represented if people are going to decide about the price of electricity or the way in which courts are going to administer justice for small claims wherein consumers might act. We must be represented in those discussions as a right of consumers.
The right to redress. If something goes wrong, we have the right to get the compensation. In the People's Republic of China, there are 700 consumers' organizations. They are very concerned in these kinds of issues because they decided to open the markets up. In opening up, who is faster in exploiting the opening? The people with dirty tricks, the way to cheat and other bad kinds of practices. The government quickly realize that if they wanted to have a more market-oriented economy, they have to have a strong consumer protection. Otherwise they will be cheated left and right.
One of the things they developed is the principle of guarantee. As a kind of guarantee they will replace, refund or rebuy. The government promotes this kind of ethics on all the products. The idea of redress should be built in.
Consumer education. There are important things in life that we are never prepared for adequately for - sex, politics and the other is taxes. And yet so much of it goes on in our life. People should be given education on the whole business of living, eating, consuming. And money is so essential to our life. And yet what kind of preparation on these do we get in schools and education systems? Nothing. We become so vulnerable and we become so easily exploited because we only learn about these by accident and by mistake. We have to fight for basic things that should be part of our rights.
The last of the rights is the right to have a clean and healthy environment. We have the right to have that health and cleanliness to survive.
Of these rights five of them are very much talked about in the industrialized countries. But two of them, particularly the basic goods and services for survival and the whole question on a healthy environment have contributed to the global endeavor of people in the third world.
For the first time, the access to the basic goods and services added to the rights of the consumers were shared in manila. At a meeting six years ago of consumers' groups of the Asian countries who asked for these rights to be recognized. Now it has become global. The Philippines has a very important historical role in developing this particular right.
Then the responsibilities. These responsibilities have to go together with these rights. There are five of them. So it's easy to remember like the Pancasila, like the five fingers in your hand.
First, we must all be critical about consumption we have. We are all blind or asleep. We must all ask ourselves why we are consuming and when we are consuming, who are benefiting and whose losing, what actually happens in that course. We have to take a lot of assumptions that we normally have.
The second thing is, it is not enough to be just critical. We must become activists about our consumption. When we consume something, wrong, we must do something about it. If we think smoking is wrong, we stop smoking. Remove the ashtray from the table. If you have a "No Smoking" sign, paste them at the bottom of the ashtray so that people will remember.
The third is everytime we consume, we affect other human beings. We must realize the link between our consumption and the effect on other human beings. When you eat in some place, you are affecting people in that place. You will choose between a place that is run by the multinationals or you prefer to eat in a hotel just run by a local family. You are actually making very important decisions about the lives of people in the Philippines. Each time you consume, whether you buy a toothpaste or you drink coffee, you are actually affecting many people's lives. The more you know about the link directly, the better it is. Then you can exercise social responsibility. You don't want to buy oranges and apples from Africa because you hate what is going on in that place. You can insist on labeling and you can insist on ways of production. I want to support community-based production rather than multinational production. Think of the effect of consumption on other human beings.
The ecological responsibility. Thinking of the effect on the environment itself, everything that we consume comes from the earth and in the end, goes back to the earth. We know all the cycles, the water cycles, the biological cycle that are operating. Things like that don't just disappear. They are all there. If we disturb that system, we're disturbing ways which will make us sick and will make the earth sick. We have to be more sensitive on the products we use, packaging system and so on.
Fifth is in society you can do practically a lot too, since other groups organize, we too have to organize to have the power to joint action. This is the principle of solidarity, not only to build up organizations, but also to start linking up with other like-minded organizations or issues.
If we take these responsibilities and rights, when we look at the world today, what is the problem, who is the enemy, who is the anti-consumer. For the consumer movement, the anti-consumer manifests itself in two ways:
The Three Terrible Technologies
The first is the three terrible technologies in the world. These are very dominant in the world today. The first is the technology of violence. So much consumption is violent. It actually is doing harm to our inner environment, and is doing harm to our outer environment. We have all kinds of slow motion suicide that we are beginning to commit on our own selves as a result of our consumption patterns.
Just look at tobacco. Someone from the smoking group will tell you about it. There is a recent calculation that two million children in the Philippines are going to die as a result of smoking-related disease. This is the power of that slow motion suicide. What is happening is the result of massive promotion of a product that is most contributing to the disease. This was stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It kills people. It kills the environment. It creates dependencies. It is a dangerous addiction.
The Surgeon General of the U.S. has said, "We the U.S. is exporting disease, we are exporting disability, we are exporting death."
We take issues relating to pesticides. 2.8 million people in the Third World are poisoned by pesticides up to the level requiring hospitalization. They require hospitalization when we don't have the facilities monitoring these kinds of things.
Many of these 2.8 million people in the Third World who are required hospitalization never even get to the hospitals or a very minute of them even get to hospitals. So the long term damage that we inflict on our farmers and again sometimes they become manipulated.
There are all kinds of pesticides technologies are being introduced: Massive spray, shot gun approaches for pesticides and medicines. They say that the amount of pesticides that really gets to the pests is even less then 1%. You can imagine, more than 99% of the pesticides are actually wasted and it ends up in our body in our food, in our water. We pay a very high price for it. We have also killed so many insects that create no problem and are now competing with us. There are 1.5 to 1.75 million insects of that kind. Only less then 1% has a relationship problem with human beings, about territory, about food. This is a very small amount. And yet pesticides go for them indiscriminately. They just kill everyone. So we kill a lot of innocent insects that play a very important role in our community and the same time we have succeeded in creating super-pest. Because what happens is you kill the weak ones, the ones that survive are the ones that are very strong. So you get stronger mosquitoes. Malaria gets back and hits us much harder and you get super mosquitoes. And they say that they have succeeded in creating 400 over anthropoids alone, super-anthropoids. So what happens? The industry has a very simple solution stronger pesticides to kill that. So what you get is super, super
Tobacco itself in terms of death kills 2.5 million a year globally. In the developing countries it is down by 1%. So all the companies who have investments they say, "Ah, markets are going down. Where do we offer this salvation" so they look that the Third World is the market for them. So they now very aggressively promoting in the Third World.
Looking at the T.V. in the Philippines, I feel very sad. I think we are allowing dangerous addiction that's associated clearly with cancer to be promoted. We think that tobacco advertising should be banned completely and should belong to programs for really phasing out what is a toxic industry.
Another we can give support and hold for those who would like to give up smoking. This is a terrible technology and there is a lot of this kind of violence that harm you. I have just given some examples.
The second is a technology of manipulation. It is related with these kinds of things. People who have money are able to use media, are able to use advertising, are able to buy things you don't need with money you don't have for uses that don't exist. And that's very powerful. You give them the money and they will make you do practically anything. They can create products that don't exist, things that don't exist and people feel that would need them.
And not only this kind of overt manipulation. They manipulate institution. So if you have university programs on agri-business, the whole pesticide technology will influence them while people are being trained. Medical schools - they give samples. They give training programs conferences. A link develops between the medical industry and people at that stage. Conferences of doctors and so on who support these kinds of things, one looks carefully who gives all the samples, free gifts, calendars, bags It's a whole kind of manipulation occurs through giveaways. It's a kind of massive institutional corruption that takes place. And many industries are linked in this kind of way to professionals, to institutions that are supposed to be our protectors and our gatekeepers. They corrupt them at a very early stage and after that it is very difficult to be linked except for brave elements and strong people who say "no" do not solicit, do not accept. But it takes a certain amount of courage. It is also like an addiction. You grow up to it. The whole profession does this kind of thing. That's the way things are. Manipulations of that kind can be found in the baby food industry. To fight to have a code to stop advertising is easy but to delink - for samples for example are given to doctors to change hospital practices, to change the way in which industries support places wherein bottle feeding can take the place so that the baby is removed from the mother immediately, junked into his room and no longer contact. All these things are much harder to fight because our institutions have been corrupted in this kind of way. By industries that are linked with them.
The third terrible technology is that of waste. We have developed a whole technology of buying things that aren't necessary or packing them in a way that is not necessary, adding things to it that are not necessary at all. So we get a lot of filth.
To give you an example, one is of course the whole way in which we treat the forests, the way we destroy them for little things that we need. We kill huge number of trees. We kill lots of areas of the forests. Maybe is we are careful in our use of trees, it will be quite different. Take the who questions of vitamins. Vitamins, cough mixtures and analgesics are the greatest misused and useless medicines most of the time.
The biggest product in Bangladesh and the bulk of people who take these vitamins don't really need these vitamins. For most people who have a balanced diet, you don't need vitamins. It's a myth that has been created. Are you giving them the best? What about you, are you taking care of yourself? Are you sick? Are you feeling weak? And so on. They play on your fears. They make you take a product that is totally unnecessary. And the bulk of the vitamins come out as urine. So unless you can think of bottling urine, because it contains all the vitamins and reexporting it to the countries that sell us these vitamins, maybe we can think of some new marketing technologies for making some new products that come out. The technology of waste is very entrenched and the forces are every entrenched.
Another group of people - the first one, very often private institutions, corporations, TNC's are involved - the transnational companies. The other one involves government and bureaucracies. These we call the "three terrible tyrants" - ignorance, inefficiency and indifference! These are basically governments who are either ignorant. They have no reason to be ignorant. They have all the resources and facilities. They should know what is going on. Unfortunately, very often they are the last people to know what is going on. Then these inefficient governments doing their responsibilities very inefficiently! Then there are indifferent governments. They just don't care and are even hostile to these kinds of issues, and those kinds of bureaucracies. You find them particularly in the Third World.
These kinds of technologies and these kinds of tyrants are very powerful. If you have a combination of people who are supporting these terrible technologies and who are supporting these terrible tyrants, we get two-headed evils combined together which we have to deal with. And we have to fight against them for survival and sometimes we just have to survive so that we can fight again some other time when we have more power and more strength. That is also strategic in terms of campaigning and so on.
Linking and Multiplying
In order to deal with these terrible tyrants and these terrible technologies, there are a number of things that has to happen. One is we have to link. The second is to multiply. These linking and multiplying have been a very important part of our work that we can have a part to deal with these tyrants and these technologies.
Now linking. There are several things that have to be linked at least seven that we have found particularly very useful. One is, I mentioned, the link between the inner and the outer environment. We must see the link in a very direct way. What happens outside and what happens inside is related, is one cycle.
The second kind of link is between the people who do things and the people who have the heart for things. Sometimes there are three different groups in the society, the people who are doers, who go to streets and make change, people who are doing research in the background and those who have the heart, who have the concern and who have to bring those two together. We have to link those two kinds of element together. And we need institutions that can link this kind of work. And in the International Organisation of Consumers Union (IOCU), we do a lot of linking work through publications, through networking, through organizations.
When we link, we have in our institutions all kinds of people. These are those
which we call the "fast, the flexible and furious" people. And there
are those who always consider themselves correct, credible and are always very
cautious. How to get the fast, furious, flexible people together make the kind
of magic combination that gives synergy.
We have to link between both issues and processes. Sometimes when we are busy fighting on issues, we're forgetting the process by which we fight because the means is as important as the end. And our means should be as humane as our ends. So thinking about the whole process and giving time to that as much as what the issue is.
Then think about now and the future - now and then always. Because in many social movements, we tend to get only the energy of the moment. And not enough people are thinking in terms of 10 years or 20 years and we have to begin this kind of long term thinking. We call it "long distance thinking". We have to have that kind of stamina in the place. And just now only that I mentioned it to you about the fact that we just borrowed it from our children. "Don't steal from the future". It is a kind of concept that is also very useful. We have to start thinking in that way.
And the other is being able to recognize what are symptoms and what are structural. In many issues, you can be dealing with symptoms all your life and never making a dent. You get the feeling that you are making progress but actually the change required is structural. So thinking is structural terms is very important.
I have a story that I have told to many colleagues. This is about a baby who is drowning in the river. You see a baby drowning in the river. You go there, to save the baby. Then you find another baby drowning, you go there, you save the second baby. You see a third You are so busy saving the baby you have no time to look up to see who's throwing the baby into the river.
In our work while we are saving the baby, we also have to have time to look at the structure, where the roots are of the particular problem and we have to think in those terms.
When we also talk about structure and so on, our people who are involved in the movement also have to start thinking, where it is going to lead to, what is the final change that we are going to make.
And a study was once told very vividly that explains this. There were two people
laying bricks. The first person asked the second person, "what are you
doing?" The second person said, "I am laying bricks." Then the
second person was asked and he said, "I am building a church." So
both of them were doing exactly the same thing. But one person had the vision
of where the end was going to be. And his work on laying the brick was quite
in a different way from the person who was just laying the brick. The person
had the vision!
The sixth kind of link is what I call the link between the sky and the grassroots. Very often we have people talk about how important is it to have grassroot groups. And then there are the other organisations which are working in the sky. Now these grassroot groups are very important. They have the link to the ground. But sometimes they can get lost in the grass. There is a tendency sometimes that they can get lost in terms of the links to the other people of the planetary system!
And the people in the sky, they can be so far away. They can be clocked by clouds and those who are blind that way. They require very long runways to land. And by the time you send the second message, many people had already died and problems are going off. So how do you link institutions that are working with that kind of level like the United Nations and so on and the people who are working on the ground?
And we have to work in ways and means by which we can bring these together. And now industry people talk of "helicopter vision". You go straight to one spot and you can go high enough to have an overview. And we need more of that kind of linking that enables you to see the bigger picture as well as being able rapidly to focus and deal with an issue.
And developing instruments of networking, of documentation can help this process between the link with the sky and between the grassroots.
And the seventh link is that because we are working with very powerful institutions, all of them are controlled by a block, the TNC that is operating, the money that is operating, whether it is Japan or the US, Europe. We have to begin also to have a strong North-South link among citizen movements.
So the North and South link is very important to us for working globally because of the people who are involved in the terrible technology and because also sometimes of our own government that aren't working. We have that solidarity of links with groups just for our own survival. Because if we have the solidarity of the links of our own world and the links of our humanity that gives us the power that can overcome tyrants in individual countries.
Then multiplation. One has to be very good at multiplying information. We have been learning all kinds of ways by which we can give things we know to the people who need that information. Whether it is books, seminars, speeches in the church and all kinds of ways.
We say we normally must have the handbooks, but all the handbooks, the doing books and simple things the people can relate to. The second thing is that we must multiply people and particularly multiply leaders. They say true leadership is creating more leaders, not creating more followers. Sometimes most people forget that. They say that great leadership must have more followers.
If you can succeed in getting people who can actually do the work, then you have a true leader.
The third thing is that we have to multiply organizations. There should also be groups of different kinds that are working on these issue we too must have.
Another is we must multiply networks. - informal ways of working together. We can say we don't have to get married to each other to do our work. We can have organisational love affairs, even infatuations, because we are concerned about an issue and we may disagree about other things. We may have different ways of doing things. But if we agree that breastfeeding must be supported, all of us can go together, so we have the power and the strength on that campaign that is not possible elsewhere. We are becoming more skilled looking for people who can help become arbitrators, people who can link this together. These are some of the kinds of multiplying things and IOCU is very much involved in the world today, through our seminars, through our networking, we work in strengthening this kinds of links and in strengthening this kind of multiplying.
Naming And Sharing
We would like to say that as a consumer movement we are not anti-business movement or anti-government. We are for good business. We are for good government. We are only against bad business practices. And for those we will be vigorously attacking globally as IOCU, we will be exposing multinationals in any way that we can, their practices, their double standards, their dumping.
We will talk about governments. As an example, I would like to give you as children, we all have been subjected to report cards and we thought we should start making report cards on government, too.
Here we have the 165 governments of the world, and we put the names here and we have the elements of how they are protecting breastfeeding and we give them dots, and say this is doing a lot and this is doing a little. We give some marks for those who are doing nice things for the country. Because exposing good things is a very beneficial thing to do. So we say, "Look, don't tell us it cannot be done. It can be done. These are the people who are doing those good things". Otherwise we get accused of attacking. "You are bad, you are bad". Where are the good things? "Well, here are the good things. Look at all these marks. Don't tell us we are a poor country, we cannot do it."
We can shame them by comparing them to their neighbours, to people who might be ideologically linked, people who are in the same stage of development. Then we just shame them for their incompetence and their indifference comparative shaming. We've done this for breastfeeding. We hope... we are now working on tobacco. We take all the governments again. We take what the WHO has stated as the problem and we will know which government is doing what.
We will go to the World Health Assembly and will say that government of the world, you have also passed all the resolutions. You say this is bad and this is what you are actually doing in your country at the moment.
On the Code itself. Philippines has moved up many steps and it is one of the countries which we would like to use as an example now in the way in which the Code on that is coming.
But for tobacco and pesticides also of other areas, you still have a long way to go. We took all the multinational media of the world. We took the Code and we say which one is behaving and which one is not behaving. The ones that got the white dots are the ones that comply.
Then the ones that are marked red are the ones that are bad. So people can see again which company they cannot tell us you know they cannot do this for commercialism. Why can't the other companies do it? How come you don't want to do it? This is a way of shaming companies globally. We also took the bottle-making and the nipple-making - the pacifiers. Under the Code they are not allowed to advertise either pacifiers or bottles. When we went to them, I told them, "Are you complying with the Code?" They have not even heard of the Code. These are 11 or 15 major companies making them.
So this kind of report cards are making waves and we hope we will start measuring government and measuring companies globally in many areas. But it is only possible because we have thousands of groups that are working in the communities. They give us the feedbacks and the information. With that we are able to do that. We don't have a big organization that goes around and spend millions of dollars. This report was done with $2000, as a global report, through postage, letter writing to the contacts. The reason we can do it is because people are connected to us. People feel this is incredible, worldwide things and they feel that world action is as important as local action. They want to link and do that together.
Because we are moving very fast as a globe to a global village because of the power of the TNC which is increasing, we have become not just a global village but a global supermarket. We must as a citizens group, be able to give a global response together, a countervailing force to this and because of this we need to have a new kind of solidarity system. We are very happy in the Philippines, we have worked with many of the groups.
We hope that for the future we will have more and more groups that will link up with the networks. We would like to share with you our work and join your work and we hope also that you will share this way in our work.
We also hope that then together all of us can be a force for happiness and we also hope that not only we be a force for happiness but we let that permeate all our work, our lives, all our organizations.
Thank you very much.